Import regulations and customs duties
Since the first of January 1993, the European Union, of which Spain is part, has been a single market, without any customs barriers, which ensures free circulation of goods. On May, 1st of 2004, ten "candidate countries" became new members of the European Union: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Trade within the European Union is totally free from customs duties, provided that the merchandises' country of origin is one of the 25 European Union Member States. Nevertheless, when introducing merchandises into Spain, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.
When the country of origin of the merchandises which are exported to Spain is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
The duties for non-European countries are relatively low, especially for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, PAC) still know protective measures.
In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs rates regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.
Moreover, many bilateral and multilateral agreements have been signed by the European Union, in order to define specific customs duties with the following countries:
- Customs agreements with Australia, Canada, United States, Mexico and South Korea.
- The EU-EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Agreement was signed in 1972 with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
- Free trade agreements with Bulgaria and Romania that hope join European Union in 2007.
- Mediterranean Agreements, concerning: Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.
- The ACP agreements, with 95% of the tariff lines with a 0% rate for developing countries in Africa, Caribbean Islands and Pacific. The Cotonou Agreement, signed in the year 2000, defines the new EU-ACP partnership.
- The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP): 54% of the tariff lines are at 0% for developing countries outside the ACP framework.
To get an exhaustive list of the foreign trade agreements of the European Union, click here.
>> To get further information on customs policies in the European Union, please check the exhaustive report by the European Commission.
Excise duties are also levied on certain products, especially on spirit.
>> To get further information on the VAT rates in Spain, please check the list of vat rates applied within European Union, as well as the Agencia Tributaria web site.
>> More detailed information on excise duties is available concerning alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, energy products on the European Commission website.
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
The Spanish distribution is characterised by a very big number of retailers and traditional shops. The retail trade which employs about 2.5 million people and contributes to more than 13% of the Spanish GNP, constitutes one of the most dynamic branches of the Spanish economy. This is clearly demonstrated by the global turnover of 120 billion euros achieved by 620,000 retail shops existing in Spain (15,2 shops / 1,000 inhabitants) .
However, just the same as many other countries, distribution in Spain is changing mainly because of the development of new modes of distribution: the large-scale distribution which concentrates at the moment 10% of sales, specialised groups, etc... The consumer, whose purchasing power increased, indeed demands products of a good value for the money spent and asks for more services, especially with regard to payment terms.
On the 15 billion euro turnover achieved in 1998 by all hypermarkets, about 90% of the sales are coming from four big names, that are Carrefour, Alcampo, Eroski and Hipercor (whole subsidiary of the Corte Inglés group). This demonstrates the dimension of concentration in this sector.
The Business to Business (B to B) market
Transportation of goods
The Asociacion española normalizacion y certificacion (Aenor) is the organisation in charge of developing normalisation and certification activities. It works in accordance with the European standards. The Aenor is divided into 115 Technical Committees of Normalisation (CTN), each of which is responsible for the normalisation of specific products. The Aenor is a member of the various European organisations for normalisation, such as: the ECN (European Committee of Normalisation), the CENELEC (European Committee of electrotechnical normalisation) and the ETSI (European Telecommunication Standardisation Institute).
Patents and brands
The organisation in charge of the registration of patents and trademarks is the Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas.